A Simple Life

To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To listen to stars and birds and babes and sages with an open heart. To study hard, think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions. Never hurry. In a word, to let the spiritual, the unbidden and the unconscious rise up through the common. This is my symphony. –William Henry Channing (1810-1884)

This is such a wise saying. I couldn’t resist writing something about it. If we were to heed the greedy, avaricious, consumer-driven voices of our culture, we would think these words to have been written by an insane man. Thank the gods we don’t listen to them. This is basically the same simple life of Taoism. Chuang Tzu says

Do not seek fame. Do not make plans. Do not be absorbed by activities. Do not think that you know. Be aware of all that is and dwell in the infinite. Wander where there is no path. Be all that Heaven gave you, but act as though you have received nothing. Be empty, that is all. The mind of a perfect man is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects nothing. It reflects but does not hold. Therefore the perfect man can act without effort. (From a translation of The Sage King, Inner Chapters by Chang Tsu)

How such a philosophy, if implemented, would turn our world completely upside down!

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How Much Is Enough?

This quote from C.G. Jung comes from his book, Psychology And The East. It is a very poignant message for our culture. It speaks to the quest for possessions and wanton consumerism that is commensurate with the upcoming Christmas season.

The externalization of culture may do away with a great many evils whose removal seems most desirable and beneficial, yet this step forward, as experience shows, is all too clearly paid for with a loss of spiritual culture. It is undeniably much more comfortable to live in a well-planned and hygienically equipped house, but this still does not answer the question of who is the dweller in this house and whether his soul rejoices in the same order and cleanliness as the house which ministers to his outer life. The man whose interests are all outside is never satisfied with what is necessary, but is perpetually hankering after something more and better which, true to his bias, he always seeks outside himself. He forgets completely that, for all his outward successes, he himself remains the same inwardly, and he therefore laments his poverty if he possesses only one automobile when the majority have two. Obviously the outward lives of men could do with a lot more bettering and beautifying, but these things lose their meaning when the inner man does not keep pace with them. To be satiated with “necessities” is no doubt an inestimable source of happiness, yet the inner man continues to raise his claim, and this can be satisfied by no outward possessions. And the less this voice is heard in the chase after the brilliant things of this world, the more the inner man becomes the source of inexplicable misfortune and uncomprehended unhappiness in the midst of living conditions whose outcome was expected to be entirely different. The externalization of life turns to incurable suffering, because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself. No one wonders at his insatiability, but regards it as his lawful right, never thinking that the one-sidedness of this psychic diet leads in the end to the gravest disturbances of equilibrium. That is the sickness of Western man, and he will not rest until he has infected the whole world with his own greedy restlessness (para. 962).

Jung, C. G. (1978). Psychology and the East. (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.), from The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vols. 10, 11, 13, and 18. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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One World Government?

For some time, there has been speculation that a shadowy cabal exists in our world that has conspired to lead us down the road to a one-world government. Some call this the Illuminati, or the New World Order. Some claim the Freemasons are behind it, or the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, or the Council On Foreign Relations. It is truly a fascinating mythology of the most complex twists and turns. There is some evidence, I suppose, that it’s all true.

What if, however, we don’t look at this “conspiracy theory” so literally? What if we look at it as a story emanating from the collective unconscious? Perhaps the claims are, indeed, factual; most myths have their origin in empirical facts. For our purposes, however, let us lay aside the literal meaning for now and examine the imaginal contents of this theory.

The first thing we must understand is that this theory is a collective myth. It has arisen out of the psyches of many people the world over, in one form or another. It is a story being told by the anima mundi, or World-Soul.

Conspiracy theories have been around as long as there have been social groups, especially secret societies. Things done in secret always arouse suspicion.

The psychological tendency for humans to fear the rule of a one-world government is a reaction against a paternalistic, overly-rational, monotheistic self-tyranny. James Hillman wrote,

To define my person by my waking state neglects [the many dream] figures and their influences. I then become tyrannical, reflecting the jealous monotheism of Number One, who will not recognize the existence of independent partial personalities, and through this denial places them outside in the world, where the internal influences of complexes now become paranoid fears of invasions by enemies.
(Re-Visioning Psychology, page 33, brackets mine)

Hillman is here discussing the temptation of humans to understand the inner state in a monotheistic fashion, ignoring the multitude of personalities who make up the human psyche. The more primal viewpoint, polytheism, actually better coincides with the natural state of the psyche.

Hillman breaks with Jung in a major way. Jung taught that the archetypes, or inner personalities, could be integrated (individuation) into what he called The Self, kind of a Christic Center of the psyche. Individuation equals wholeness. Hillman sees this as just another example of monotheistic thinking. He would rather the archetypes remain independent and unique. The entire monotheistic/monistic concept is a form of ego-consciousness. The heroic Ego, like Hercules, believes it can subdue all others to itself and stand as Number One.

This idea, applied macrocosmically, gives ample evidence as to why nations need to remain autonomous. If it is healthier for the inner persons to remain independent and autonomous, then, according to the principle, As above, so below, it is healthier for nations to remain autonomous as well.

There is tyranny when only one rules. The One is jealous of all others. The mythology of one-world rule is a projection of our inner paranoia, our fear of a self-tyranny.

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The Dance Of Death

Gray melancholy clouds hung overhead, as I watched a leaf being carried by an almost forgotten breeze. I wept when I noticed it, for it reminded me of the Dance Of Death. The leaf was brown and brittle, its life almost sapped. It fluttered in the now indecisive wind, first this way, then that. But, in all it’s dying, there was deep meaning there. It wasn’t something you could rationalize, or put into words. There was something zen-like about it, something feeling-toned.

As I watched it, I suddenly found myself in another realm. The place was dark, mist-filled, enigmatic, inexplicable. It appeared to be a wasteland. I noticed, on the horizon, a path leading up the mountain. Its peak was heavily shrouded in a blanket of fog.

I was quite confused by all this, not really afraid. Even though this was a harrowing experience, I felt a little thrilled as well.

I made my way across a dark field filled with stumps of trees and overgrown brush. It looked as though an ancient war had been waged here.

The undercurrent of the night ran silently along the well-lit pathway, as blue gleams of starlight beckoned to me with outstretched arms. I rode along, not really minding the struggle going on below me. I knew it was simply part of The Plan; it was a necessity.

The path murmured unintelligibly. I couldn’t quite make out what it was saying, but it had something to do with lights above us.

Suddenly, a mirror fell and smashed into the night. I could no longer behold my image, which, like Narcissus, I had fallen in love with. I was torn between a love for day and a love for night. Daytime meant nourishment and growth, but night! O night! It was very pleasant, more sensuous. It was warm and moist and feelings were more whimsical.

I allowed the night to take me where it would. Uncertainty filled my mind, but I knew when the journey ended, I would Be.

A strong feeling of intense euphoria suddenly arose in me. I leaned into it, allowing the emotion to wash over me completely. Eventually, I sensed a spurt of pure energy exit my body, as strange sounds emanated from the valley below.

“Is this satori?” I asked myself, as I lost consciousness.

When I awoke, I was sitting beside a sea of loathsome despair, waiting for death to arrive. The air was black as pitch. The stars above sang a noisome tune concerning their origin and their wish for death as well. The Burning One came and sat down beside me. His shadowy visage recited a dark saga from long ago. The nitre hung from his fingertips like jungle vines falling from trees. He told me of terrible things, things which caused my ears to become as stone. I listened, but after awhile, I could no longer endure the dismal tale.

Suddenly, a banshee howled and all quiet fled away like a dole of doves startled by a gunshot. It turned my heart to ice and my skin to pale green. The moment of reckoning had come. The day of rest was at hand. I knew that I must listen to the scream and I did so until it echoed away into the night. Bright points of light streamed from holes in the canopy above me, signalling to me that a voice, in a whisper, was about to speak. In that harrowing night, it was made known to me why I had been on the earth and what I was supposed to have accomplished. I was driven to despair that I had not done so.

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